When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

Daliah Scheindlin, head of the study on the Israeli side with Tel Aviv University's International Mediation and Conflict Resolution Program, commented that "Support for a non-democratic system has surpassed the two-state solution for the first time."

Scheindlin's Palestinian counterpart, Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Political and Opinion Research in Ramallah, said it was becoming "increasingly difficult to find public support for peace.”

And this was last Tuesday, during a joint press conference reported by the Israeli daily Haaretz : since then, there have been nearly 20 deaths on both sides.

Ashes of Oslo

On the Palestinian side, there is still a very slight leaning in support for the two states over the hypothesis of a single state dominated by Palestinians: 33% v. 30%.

On the Israeli side however, the study shows a serious discrepancy between the opinions of the Jewish majority and the Arab minority: On the Jewish side, the curves have reversed, with 37% in favor of a single state dominated by Israelis, compared to 34% advocating for two states. Only among Israeli Arabs, who make up 20% of Israel's population, were 60% of respondents in favor of the two-state solution.

And, according to the survey, only one-quarter favored a single democratic state, in which citizens would have equal rights.

Compared with previous side-by-side studies, this year's results express a widening loss of hope, the absence of any prospect of negotiation and peaceful coexistence. This is part of a long process that has been going on since the failure of the Oslo Peace Accords, signed in September 1993, 30 years ago this year, which were intended to lead to the emergence of two states living peacefully alongside each other.

Extremist victors

The difficulties in implementing the Oslo Accords rather quickly undermined confidence, but the final blow came from the fierce opposition of extremists on both sides: the Palestinian Hamas, which carried out bloody attacks in Israel through the 1990s, and the actions of Jewish religious extremists, such as Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the 1994 Hebron massacre, and Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. These are the figures who can today claim victory, having helped destroy the very idea of peace among the two peoples.

There is support from a significant minority for violence as a method — on both sides

What last week's study also reveals is the support from a significant minority for violence as a method of action, on both sides. This is yet another disturbing development in the light of history, and the fatal spiral we have been witnessing for months — not to mention in just the past few days — confirms this trend.

In last year's violence, 150 Palestinians died, and the first month of 2023 is particularly bloody: 27 Palestinians died, and seven Israelis died as well, as the cycle of assassination and revenge has been triggered.

Masked Palestinian gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah movement led by President Mahmoud Abbas, appear carrying their weapons during the demonstration for the Palestinians who were shot dead by the Israeli army this year, in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

Masked Palestinian gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah movement during the demonstration for the Palestinians who were shot dead by the Israeli army in 2022, in Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, on Dec. 24.

Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Dreaming of apocalypse

What is worse, there no longer exists any significant political force on either the Israeli or the Palestinian side capable of reversing the course of events. For the past month, Israel has had a government that includes far-right leaders who dream of an apocalypse — in the biblical sense of the word — which they see as a way to expel Palestinians and annex their territories.

Itamar Ben Gvir, Minister of Security, lives in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Hebron, south of Jerusalem, from where Dr. Baruch Goldstein set off to murder innocent Muslims at prayer in February 1994. His grave, located in the settlement compound, is the object of a cult.

And on the Palestinian side, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas is completely discredited, lacking both legitimacy and authority, giving way to civil society groups, some of which have chosen a hopeless armed struggle.

International bystanders

The so-called international community, an outdated expression that lost all meaning a long time ago in this part of the world, has little control over the situation.

Where can we look for that rupture that will prevent the conflagration of a land that's already seen too many tragedies?

Inaction in the face of this tragic impasse is one of the grievances of a share of the opinions of countries in the developing world when the West calls on them to defend international law in the war in Ukraine. The UN resolutions on Palestine have remained unheeded for five decades, and everyone looks the other way, starting with the Arab countries that signed the Abraham Accords to open diplomatic dialogue with Israel.

Where can we look for that rupture that will prevent the conflagration of a land that has already seen too many tragedies? Who will be able to instill a bit of hope in two peoples who see no other perspective than violence?

It is impossible to say today: the spiral of confrontation seems difficult to stop. And it is a safe bet that, if nothing is done, the next "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse" study will show even less desire to coexist, and more and more thirst for domination of the other as the only solution.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Pride Or Politics? Why Poland Suddenly Turned Its Back On Ukraine

Poland has taken President Zelensky's criticism at the UN very badly, and has decided to not supply new arms to Ukraine. One man in the Kremlin couldn't be more pleased.

photo in front of flags Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Happier times: Polish President Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lutsk, Ukraine, in July

Jakub Szymczuk / Kprm handout/via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Who could have imagined that the weakest link in support of Ukraine would be Poland? Since the start of Russia's invasion, Warsaw's commitment to Kyiv has been unwavering — initially driven above all by its unbound hostility towards Moscow.

That steadfast support of its neighbor is over now, and in a big way.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The announcement in Warsaw that Polish arms deliveries to Ukraine were to be halted stunned all, and was accompanied by derogatory statements by Polish President Andrzej Duda towards Ukraine's leaders. He compared Ukraine to a desperate drowning man who would drag down those who tried to save him. Duda was also considered the most reasonable of the Polish populists — so that's the mood.

Poland had shown itself to be uncompromising in its support for Ukraine, and had even given lessons to more timid European countries on several occasions.

So why the U-turn? First of all, there are difficult general elections in Poland on October 15, and it's clear that the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in power in Warsaw will do everything possible to win.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest